Bevin administration says it will cost $240k to shut down kynect, Stumbo wants figures verified

03/02/2016 03:46 PM

UPDATED: Arithmetic is now a focal point in the shutdown of kynect with Gov. Matt Bevin announcing it will cost much less to shut down the state’s healthcare portal than previously expected.

Kynect was expected to cost $23 million and nine-months to shutdown, according to Carrie Banahan the executive director of the Kentucky Health Benefit Exchange.

On Wednesday, Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Vickie Yates Glisson said the transition to the federal health exchange would cost approximately $240,000.

“It is time to set the record straight on kynect,” said Governor Matt Bevin in a statement. “My administration has repeatedly disputed the claim often made by proponents of kynect that it will cost the state $23 million to transition to the federal exchange. This is not true. In fact, we now know that the net IT costs for the transition are expected to be $240,000.”

Bevin claims that transitioning healthcare will eliminate redundant spending and save the state cash. The first year Republican governor notified the Department of Health and Human Services on December 30, that the state would shut down kynect and move to Healthcare.gov.

“The methodical approach by this administration is paying off,” said Secretary Vickie Yates Glisson in a statement. “By transitioning to the federal exchange, Kentucky will save $20 million a year that can be used for other pressing healthcare needs without compromising access to health insurance products.”

Last year healthcare officials said that shuttering kynect in favor of HealthCare.gov will cost those selling health plans higher fees. The state had charged insurers a 1 percent fee to fund kynect, and last year a spokeswoman for the Cabinet for Health and Family Services said insurers would be assessed 3.5 percent on the federal exchange.

A new report released on Wednesday shows that there are now only 13 percent of Kentuckians uninsured. According to the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky the percentage of Kentuckians without insurance has been cut in half from 2013 to 2015.

When asked about the new numbers from the Bevin administration, House Speaker Greg Stumbo said that he wanted to verify the cost of shutting down the healthcare portal.

“Throwing numbers out is one thing, but verifying them is something else,” he said.

Former Democratic Governor Steve Beshear has formed ‘Save Kentucky Healthcare’ a 501(c )4 organization, aimed at keeping kynect and the expansion of Medicaid in place.

In a statement sent on Wednesday, Beshear said that Bevin’s math doesn’t add up.

“This morning he claimed dismantling Kynect would save Kentucky $20 million per year, which is simply untrue,” Beshear said. “In fact, Kynect was created using federal tax dollars and since January 2015 has been funded with revenues from a one percent premium assessment on insurance companies. Zero dollars have been taken from the Kentucky General Fund to pay for this exchange. So there are no savings to use elsewhere.”

Beshear also said the steps to transfer were complex and have additional costs that Bevin is not outlining.

“(T)he federal government recently sent Governor Bevin a letter outlining in detail a laundry list of complex steps needed to be taken in such a transition, including the maintenance of a call center and also the possible return of $57.5 million to the federal government,” Beshear continued. “And these are just the costs we are aware of so far. No one yet knows for sure how much all of the additional steps being required by the federal government will cost.”

The former Democratic governor called on the current Republican governor to “quit playing politics with the well-being of Kentuckians” if he is not able to offer backup materials to support his claims that shutting down kynect will cost little and save the commonwealth.

Beshear’s action on healthcare has been met by opposition from Bevin, and groups supporting Republican causes ran ads against Beshear and Stumbo.

About Nick Storm

Nick Storm is the Anchor and Managing Editor of Pure Politics, the only nightly program dedicated to Kentucky politics. Nick covers all of the political heavyweights and his investigative work brings to light issues that might otherwise go unnoticed, like the connection between the high profile Steubenville, Ohio rape and a Kentucky hacker whose push for further investigation could put him in federal prison. Nick is also working on a feature length bio documentary Outlaw Poet: A documentary on Ron Whitehead. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickStorm_cn2. Nick can be reached at 502-792-1107 or nicholas.storm@charter.com.

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